BENTON — Judges on Monday set trial dates for two former employees of the Saline County sheriff's office each charged with abuse of trust and theft of property.
Saline County Circuit Judge Gary Arnold set ex-sheriff Bruce Pennington's trial for Nov. 20-21, and Special Judge John Langston set former chief deputy of finance JoNell Mallory's trial for Oct. 16.
Pennington, who also faces a misdemeanor theft of property charge, is accused of accepting free granite countertops in exchange for helping a man get out of a community service and taking money from inmate phone cards to pay for his own legal troubles while in office.
Pennington left office last year after pleading guilty to alcohol-related charges after an arrest at a Benton restaurant. He filed to run for sheriff again but said he chose to withdraw before the primary in May, though his name still appeared on the ballot. He finished in last place among seven candidates vying for the Republican nomination.
Pennington was not in court for Monday's hearing. His attorney, Ray Baxter, appeared instead, telling the judge that the former sheriff now lives in Fayetteville.
Mallory is accused of having a man's court-ordered fines waived in exchange for him performing tile work in her residence as well as taking money from inmate phone cards "for her own personal use," according to a probable cause affidavit filed in her case.
She didn't speak during a brief hearing before Langston, during which prosecutors said no plea agreement has been offered but that negotiations are ongoing.